Thursday, June 20, 2013

Llyr's final journey with Degenerative Myelopathy

I am long overdue in writing about Llyr's final journey with DM and having to help him go the Rainbow Bridge. Friday June 21, 2013 it will be one year from when he left this world. It has been an emotional and difficult year in many ways, but many friends and my other Corgi Awstin have helped along the way.

From the time your Corgi gets the tentative diagnosis of DM you know what the eventual outcome will be since there is as of yet no treatment or cure. I knew from the very beginning if Llyr did not develop any other problems during his journey with DM what would cause me to make that decision. When the time came that Llyr's DM was going to cause difficulties in breathing that it was time to let him go. This was my line in the sand, but you may have a different one. It is clearly a very personal decision.  Discuss it with your Vet, friends, family, fellow owners of Corgis with DM or whomever you have as a support system. If your decision is at a different point don't ever feel bad that you made it earlier or even later during the stages of DM.

I remember the day when Llyr and I were at the University of Pennsylvania and I asked Dr. Moeser when Llyr's breathing deficits would turn toward him having difficulty breathing. He thought possibly 3-4 months, but could not predict accurately. My heart sank because I knew we were getting closer to the end of Llyr's journey with DM. Llyr made it longer than Dr. Moeser's time frame. Once again, Llyr did better than expected. I was extremely happy, but at the same time starting to get worried.

Even though I always kept a close eye on Llyr now with the help of Llyr's team at rehab I was watching his heart rate and breathing even closer. After Llyr stopped his swimming therapy I also made sure that every appointment at rehab was made at a time when Dr. Stephanie Finley would be there so she could do an evaluation on how he was breathing in case I had missed something.The continued twice a week rehab visits also gave me an incredible piece of mind. In the almost three years of going to West Chester Veterinary Rehabilitation Speciality Center twice a week Dr. Stephanie Finely, Michelle and Cheryl had become my second family. I needed them as much if not more than Llyr at this point. Only Llyr's Vets, his rehab team, a few of my closest friends and family knew what was happening. Llyr was entering his final few months.


                                                   Michelle and Llyr 


                            Llyr and I with his rehab team - Our second family!

I had hoped that Llyr and I would be able to go to the Philly Area Corgi Picnic, but it all depended on how he was doing.  The picnic was June 9th and Dr. Stephanie Finley gave us the okay to go. Llyr was in his glory that day!

                                  Llyr loaded in his car crate and waiting to go!

                      We arrived! Ready to go see old friends and meet new ones!

                     Llyr enjoying his stroller ride around the picnic grounds!

                    One of my favorite photos of Llyr and I! We had so much fun!

                      A late afternoon group picture of everyone and their Corgis!

The picnic was a day that I will never forget. Llyr and I participated in the musical hula hoops game! We had a slight advantage since he was in a stroller. It did not matter that we did not win because Llyr was all smiles and so was I! Llyr was able to meet many new friends and we both had a fantastic time!

I knew prior to the picnic that Llyr would be going to the Rainbow Bridge sometime in the next week or so. It made the day very bittersweet. I had agonized over if I should let people know prior to the picnic that this was going to be happening. I had made many phone calls to a dear friend Amy to discuss this, but decided not to because I did not want people to be sad when they saw Llyr.  I only told one person at the picnic. My friend Kathy who had lost her beloved Corgi to DM. I know that she knew the moment I looked at her face.

I had much earlier decided that Llyr would have a necropsy and that his tissues and spinal cord would go to Dr. Coates at the University of Missouri for research on DM.  I hope that everyone will consider doing this. The research to find out more about DM is very important and it is also the only way to confirm a DM diagnosis. It does take some planing because a kit has to be ordered from the University of Missouri for the procedure.

The day was fast approaching and as you can imagine my emotions were hard to control at times. I made a post on Facebook about what was going to happen and the amount of support I received was overwhelming, but at the same time a God send. Llyr and I had touched so many people throughout his journey. I could never have imagined what he meant to what we Corgi folk call "Corgi Nation".

That morning Llyr had a special breakfast of kibble and his favorite fruits. He gobbled it with his usual gusto. We went for his last stroller ride. It was a beautiful sunny day.

                                    Llyr in his cart for a piddle for the last time

                                            Heading out for his stroller ride!

One last time around the neighborhood. Taking in the sights, sounds and smells. Llyr was all smiles and holding his head up high!                                      

         Back at the house and Llyr as always had a beautiful smile on his face.

The day I had dreaded for so long was upon us. My friend Joanne came over to drive us to West Chester. That one last and horrible car ride. Llyr did not ride in his car crate, but on my lap. I hugged him, talked to him, told him how much I loved him and cried my heart out. The pain I was experiencing was the most intense I had ever had, but I also knew that I was giving my Llyr the greatest gift. He would soon be running, frappining and there would be an endless supply of his favorite treats. He would see Gwennan again and he would be healthy once again. My Father met us there and Dr. Stephanie Finley, Michelle and Cheryl  had cleared the rehab schedule so it would be just for Llyr while we were downstairs. Llyr had lots of treats! He had three frozen treats, peanut butter and some other goodies too. We all said our goodbyes and then he was given a tranquilizer.  Llyr gave me his last big smile and the shot was given. Llyr had made his journey to the Rainbow Bridge. The sadness was overwhelming and I did not want to leave. Dr. Stephanie Finley took the day off to take Llyr to the University of Pennsylvania and would observe the necropsy and then bring him back to West Chester and have him sent to be cremated. She gave me an incredible gift that day to know that Llyr would with her. I can never thank her, Michelle and Cheryl enough for all they did for Llyr and I from the beginning to the very end of Llyr's journey with DM.

Tomorrow will be one year since Llyr went to the Rainbow Bridge. I miss him and think of him every single day. There will never be another Llyr. His loss has left a hole in my heart, but he taught me many things through out his life. He taught me strength in adversity, to live each day to its fullest and never ever forget to smile despite what may be happening.  Llyr, I will love you forever and will always remember  the incredible bond we shared. I will continue to strive to help  and educate anyone that I can about DM until that day comes that there is a cure. Give Gwennan a big kiss from me my beloved and most wonderful angel Llyr!

This is what I saw in the clouds above my house on the day I returned with Llyr's ashes. Look closely at the top and you will see Llyr in the clouds! What an amazing gift Llyr gave me!